So many of the choices you make every day can impact your heart health.
Choosing to exercise and eat right every day is a decision that helps keep your heart in good working order, while opting to lay on the couch and eat junk food doesn’t do you any favors. Despite how straightforward this might sound, you might not realize just how much of an effect these decisions have on the health of your heart.
This is especially important for habits that negatively impact key risk areas like your cholesterol and blood pressure. These factors, among others, are some of the leading contributors to heart disease.
Keep a careful eye on the five major causes of heart disease so you can understand and reduce your risk of developing this condition and maintain your overall health.
Major Causes of Heart Disease
In most cases, heart disease is the result of genetics or poor health caused by smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes.
The most common danger associated with smoking is lung disease, but it can affect other parts of your body too. Smoking can make you two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than a non-smoker, especially if you smoke a pack or more every day.
Smoking can damage your blood vessels, restricting blood flow. It also raises your blood pressure and heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder to supply your organs with oxygenated blood.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been connected to a number of different complications, but heart disease is among the most prevalent.
When your blood pressure is high, your arteries become damaged over time. Plaque builds up and narrows the arteries, and the heart pumps faster and harder to maintain blood flow. The extra effort enlarges the left ventricle, weakening your heart and often resulting in congestive heart failure.
Diabetes can significantly increase your risk of heart disease, as high blood sugar damages your blood vessels.
When you have diabetes, your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide is reduced. Nitric oxide functions as a vasodilator, which means it widens your blood vessels. Without it, your blood vessels narrow, restricting blood flow.
Additionally, high blood pressure frequently occurs alongside diabetes, which increases your risk even further. This can manifest in peripheral artery disease (PAD), which limits blood flow to the legs.
Some cholesterol is necessary for your body to function regularly, but too much can lead to heart disease. This is because high cholesterol increases the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. Too much plaque narrows the vessels and inhibits blood flow.
If too much plaque builds up, these deposits can form a blockage that causes a stroke or heart attack.
Genetics can play a role in determining your likelihood of developing heart disease too. You’re more likely to have issues with blood flow and heart disease if a family member has it, especially if one of your parents or siblings has a heart attack before they turn 50.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you are fated to develop heart disease no matter what. With careful management of your health, including regular checkups with your doctor and a commitment to making heart-healthy choices, you can reduce your risk.
Reducing Your Risk Level
In many cases, reducing your risk of developing heart disease means adjusting your behaviors and taking your overall wellness seriously. You can keep your blood vessels in good working condition by making small changes to your daily habits and speaking to a medical professional.
Avoiding Harmful Behaviors
For causes of heart disease like smoking, the best thing you can do for your body is quitting. Smoking can damage many different organs and tissues throughout your body, not just your heart, so you should strive to stop as soon as possible.
If you’re having trouble quitting, at least reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Heavy smokers have a much higher risk of damaging their hearts, and becoming a light smoker can reduce your dependency and make quitting easier.
Treat the Root Causes
Many forms of heart disease treatment involve focusing on the root causes of damage to the heart and blood vessels. This means making healthier choices on a regular basis.
For example, you can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure by adjusting your diet. Cutting out saturated and trans fats, keeping your sugar consumption under control, and decreasing your salt content in your diet are all excellent healthy behaviors.
Getting just 30 minutes of exercise each day helps treat these conditions as well. Include some cardio to improve your heart health.
Speak With a Doctor About Heart Disease Treatment
If you have a family history of heart attacks and strokes, talk to your doctor about monitoring your risk levels at your yearly medical appointments. Keeping track of changes in your blood pressure and cholesterol can help you get on top of any issues through lifestyle changes or medication treatment.
The causes of heart disease come in many different forms, and all of them are dangerous. If you are affected by any of these causes, you should be more vigilant about taking good care of your heart to keep yourself healthy and strong.